This week, hundreds of angry constituents made their voices heard in ]rowdy town hall meetings across GOP congress members’ districts. While some Republicans used Facebook Live or conference calls to address questions on immigration, Obamacare, and the federal government’s alleged ties with Russia, the President took to Twitter to address constituents in his own style.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted about some “angry crowds” present at the meetings that they were plants hired by liberals. The president’s claims were backed by the White House spokesperson Sean Spicer shortly after.
Other Republican representatives canceled the town hall meetings since they couldn’t face the crowds. House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving told Congress people courageous enough to attend the meetings to keep “enhanced security awareness” during the recess especially if their districts turn into “demonstration site[s]”.
Irving also advised his fellow congressional Republicans who attended town halls or rallies to seek police assistance and keep him informed.
Wednesday, Spicer told reporters that the town halls are a kind of “hybrid” with some people being genuinely upset and other people being “a bit of professional protester[s],” forming a “manufactured base.”
Just because they’re loud doesn’t mean they are many, and in a lot of cases, I think that’s what you’re seeing,
Spicer said about the so-called “professional protesters.”
He added that town halls are not an accurate reflection of a Republican or Democrat’s voter base. Sen. Cory Gardner from Colorado recently said the constituents that sent him angry emails were “paid” to do it.
When Gardner suggested that some in a local town hall were plants, rather than genuine voters, constituents held up their voter IDs to prove that the entire room was occupied by real voters.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said he would join his fellow Republican Jeff Flake in meeting with constituents. McCain, however, said the meetings will take place at private locations, not public venues. He explained that he wants to listen to people and wants from people to listen back. He added that he sees no point in a meeting filled with protesters where nobody is willing to listen to anybody.
Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa promised to hold a town hall meeting in April after a group of sixteen voters didn’t find him at his office last week. Shasta County, Calif., residents said they wanted to question LaMalfa about the fate of Medicare among other topics.
In Connecticut, Rep. Claudia Tenney said she would not hold in-person meetings as she had received threats over her phone in the last month. Her office said she would not hold the meetings – or delay holding the meetings – due to “safety reasons.”
In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley was grilled by constituents regarding health care and Russia. One of the voters present at the meeting held a sign reading “Find Your Spine.” A local school teacher blasted the Republican for supporting Betsy DeVos for Education since DeVos’ “life’s work” has been to direct federal money to religious and private schools.
After the meeting, Grassley said that, in an representative government, it is every politician’s responsibility to discuss with their constituents.
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